At a loss

We had an oncology appointment last Thursday. The doctor was pleased that my husband was putting on weight, but I was more concerned about his inactivity.

“Should I bring him to a physical therapist?” I asked the doctor.

“No. No need for anything so regimented,” he said, and leaned forward in his chair as his attention shifted to my husband. “You walk about 1,000 steps a day, right?”

I burst out laughing. “He can’t say I’m lying, doctor, but all he does is lay on the couch and watch TV. Period. Activity? Walking to and from the bathroom and kitchen on the same floor. He sleeps in the den on that same couch rather than climb the stairs to the bedroom.”

The doctor was clearly surprised. Now came his prescription–walk that 1,000 steps. Lift 1 or 2 lb. weights or hold a baseball bat by its handle directly out from your shoulder and work up to 60 seconds for each arm.

To date, I have seen no change. In fact, he’s won the battle of the cushions. I’ve added the pale yellow living room couch cushions back to the den’s lower, leather couch to make it easier for him to rise.

He’s not lifting any weights, though he has a complete weight system in the basement. He’s not using the exercise bike in the den beside the couch.

He’s pretty much isolated himself in there. He’s cold, understandable with no muscle or fat on his frame, and runs an electric heater nearly all the time. He closes the door to keep the heat inside and lies there under two blankets. The dogs can’t enter his sanctum unless he gets up and lets them in. They’ve stopped trying to catch his attention, and follow me around like lost souls. I won’t go in the den because it’s like an oven in there. So no companionship–either for him or me. I’m feeling pretty isolated. Can’t speak for him. He seems fairly content to lie there, leaving the room only for bathroom breaks–diarrhea is still an on and off thing–and food breaks.

Is it mild depression? Or is he being stoic? I have no idea. He’s not a talker. I am, but it gains me nothing to spout what seems to be a monologue so I don’t, gritting my teeth and taking out my frustration by yelling at him. Not a good thing.

Even so, there’s a pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded. He could do that while watching TV. He agreed some time ago, but it was only lip service as the laundry’s been there over a month. (Yes. I can be quite stubborn too.)

“Move,” I said just today.  “Get up and at least move your arms. Fold the laundry. You said you would.”

I’ve begun making him take the dogs out after dinner and before bed. He can at least walk up and down outside the front of the house.

I have no idea what else to do to make him move more. I’m frustrated and tired. I’ve taken on what household duties I can. I dismantled the garden last weekend, composting the plants, putting away the wrought iron fencing that surrounds my planting beds and keep the dogs out. I’ve turned off the fountain though I’ve yet to store it, and shut off the sprinkler system. I’ve yet to tackle leaf blowing and raking along the 100 ft frontage of our home. No idea when I’ll get to that. The patio awning is still up. He keeps saying he’ll call someone he knows to take it down, but so far, as with the laundry and the removal of the last air conditioner (I removed the 3 upstairs with the help of a young visitor), it’s just lip service.

Yes. I’m frustrated.

A dear former colleague has asked us to dinner this Saturday evening. I’m going with or without him. In my present state of mind, I’ll probably have a better time without him. That’s sad, but it’s also honest.

In terms of my novel, With Malice toward One, I’m beginning to think I made my female protagonist, Danny Ambrose, too heroic. <sigh>

And no new oncology visit for a month.

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